This year’s UN Women’s theme for International Women’s Day is “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world”, designed to celebrate the efforts of women and girls in creating a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the UK Defence Training Estate (DTE) playing an essential role in the military’s response to the COVID-19 crisis, Finance Director Jo Potts has been critical to helping steer Landmarc through the pandemic to ensure that we have remained agile, flexible and responsive to the needs of our Armed Forces.

Here we talk to Jo to find out more about what motivates her and her advice for the next generation of female leaders.

How long have you worked at Landmarc?

I joined Landmarc six years ago as Head of Finance before my promotion to Finance Director in 2019.

My career started on the Graduate Training Scheme with Ernst & Young in London where I qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2003. It was a rigorous and intense learning environment, with incredible energy and a constant strive to achieve. I acquired many new skills and experiences during my time there whilst studying for some of the hardest exams ever!

After that I joined BP in their Shared Service centre before relocating to Bristol, where I had originally attended university. There I joined Interserve, one of Landmarc’s previous shareholders, as a Finance Manager before moving across to Landmarc in 2015.

What’s a typical day like for you?

My month tends to be split in half – the first two weeks are taken up with preparation and subsequent reporting of month end accounts.  We hold Contract Review meetings with both of our shareholders, reporting on the operational and financial performance of the business each month. We also hold monthly regional and departmental review meetings which is an invaluable opportunity to engage and discuss normal business as well as more strategic issues from both the regional and Head Office perspective.

The second half of the month tends to be more varied.  I sit on the Digital Transformation Board and the Business Improvement Programme steering group, coordinate ad hoc shareholder requests, keep engaged with the rest of the business to ensure any decisions are informed and timely. I also have responsibility for the IT department, so there is a lot of variety!

What do you enjoy most about working at Landmarc?

A constant highlight for me is the people and their genuine passion and dedication to the training estate, many of whom have a military background, including our Managing Director; the length of time people have worked here in various roles will never cease to inspire and astound me. Our employees embody a positive and pragmatic ‘can do’ attitude and will turn their hand to whatever needs to be done.  I look forward to being able to travel around the regions again to meet more of the teams and learn about more aspects of the hard work that goes into the delivery of services that provide our Armed Forces with a safe place to train.

What’s a goal you have for the business that you want to accomplish this year?

I want us to be more honest and open about our collective strengths and weaknesses.  We are disparate geographically, even more so now, and we need to draw strength from our peers to support each other, define best practice, be sounding boards for ideas across different regions, and subject disciplines, capitalising on the breadth of knowledge and experience to bring lateral thinking to challenges. Only then can we stop working in silos and operate effectively truly alongside each other.

What are you most passionate about professionally?

Challenging the status quo.  Any good process or decision should always be robust enough to withstand a challenge.  The worst thing you can say to me is, “we’ve always done it like that but we don’t know why….”!  I love hearing about new ideas from all corners of the business, sometimes the simplest and seemingly smallest ideas can make the biggest difference.  I want us to encourage a culture of asking questions and constantly striving for improvement.

What do you like to do when you’re not at work?

Ordinarily I love to explore new places, both overseas and closer to home.  Lately it’s just a lot of walking, and I do enjoy a good family board game.  I also love reading, my latest favourite read was The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern.

Who inspires or motivates you?

All the women around us trying to balance work and life are inspiring. Women are good at just getting on with it and for me personally, I love a new challenge and the possibility of learning something from the experience.

What’s your biggest accomplishment?

Balancing a full time job with raising two energetic boys!  Landmarc genuinely supports flexible working which is invaluable to me.  Every day is a juggle with work, home schooling and now back to the school runs but it is incredibly rewarding to make it work and definitely helps me to keep everything in perspective!

What advice would you give to the next generation of female leaders?

Be true to yourself. Keep an open mind and learn from those around you but ultimately you need to run your own race and not compare yourself to anyone else. Everyone’s circumstances, motivations and goals are different.

Do you think Landmarc works hard to improve the culture for women in the workplace?

From my experience, Landmarc does not differentiate. If you have the right credentials for the job, then you are in the mix along with everyone else. As one of a number of women in the Leadership Team I can honestly say that Landmarc works hard to facilitate equal opportunities at all levels.